Correction to This Article
A Sept. 25 article incorrectly reflected the message on a Buddhist Peace Delegation banner in Saturday's antiwar march. The sign read, "May all beings be safe and free from anger, fear, greed, delusion and all ill being."
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Antiwar Fervor Fills the Streets

Leslie Darling, 60, came from Cleveland with four friends and said it was her first antiwar protest. She said she was moved by what happened after Hurricane Katrina.

"It made clear that while we spend all this money trying to impose our will on other countries, here at home in our own country, we can't take care of each other," she said.

When the bus coming from Kalamazoo, Mich., pulled up to Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue, Sister Maureen Metty, 56, stretched her legs and prepared for a brand-new experience.

"There were 250 sisters who wanted to be here today, but I'm the one they chose to send," she said. She carried a sign that read "Sisters of St. Joseph's for Peace," a folding stool and a backpack with snacks, her toothbrush and toothpaste. She snapped a flurry of pictures for the sisters back home, took a deep breath and headed into the crowd.

People came to the Mall and Ellipse in waves. Organizers said that several thousand never got there because of an Amtrak breakdown on the New York-to-Washington line in the morning. Others who took Metro faced delays because of repairs on the Yellow and Blue lines.

Once protesters arrived, they joined throngs headed toward the rally on the Ellipse, which featured numerous speakers, including the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, actress Jessica Lange and Cindy Sheehan, the California woman who drew thousands of demonstrators to her 26-day vigil outside Bush's Crawford, Tex., ranch last month and was the inspiration for many protesters yesterday. Her son, Casey, 24, was killed in Iraq last year.

"This is amazing!" Sheehan said. "You're part of history."

Some of the biggest applause went to someone not even on the program. Adam Hathaway, an 8-year-old who became lost while mingling in the crowds. Before he was separated from his mother, Adam was showing people his jar of pennies and proclaiming that "President Bush is taking lots of this and using it in the war."

Several announcements were made seeking help in finding the blond boy from Maine. He was reunited with his mother, Julia Hathaway, as the crowd cheered.

Bush was not around to hear the protesters filing past the White House. He spent the day at command centers in Texas and Colorado, where he assessed Hurricane Rita recovery efforts. Vice President Cheney was undergoing surgery at George Washington University Hospital to treat aneurysms on the back of his knees.

Bush and Cheney were depicted on posters, T-shirts and in makeshift costumes. Several demonstrators wore masks of Bush's likeness and prison jumpsuits. They were often asked to pose for photographs.

Many protesters said they had opposed the action in Iraq all along but were emboldened to demonstrate after polls showed that a majority of Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of the war.

The masses on the street served up a broad cross section of the United States by age, geography religion and ethnic group. The Raging Grannies, Presbyterians for Peace, Portuguese Against Bush and a group of Quakers were there. The Buddhist Peace Delegation took up most of 14th Street NW with its golden banner that read: "May all beings be safe and free from anger, fear, greed, dilution and all ill being."

Protest organizers made special note of military participants in the antiwar effort.

Army 1st Sgt. Frank Cookinham, with a Special Forces patch on one shoulder, scorpion tattoos crawling across the back of his neck and "LOCO" permanently inked on his Adam's apple stands out in most crowds. He was pretty uncomfortable yesterday.

"I've never done this before, but here I am, in uniform, figuring this is the only way I can shove it to Bush," said Cookinham, of Newport, R.I., a Persian Gulf War veteran who recently returned from a second tour in Iraq. "This war makes no sense."

Marching past the Treasury Building, Steven Olsen, 57, and his wife, Brenda, 49, of Yonkers, N.Y., held signs bearing a photo of their son, an Army Reserve sergeant sent to Iraq after enrolling in medical school.

"I hear from him about once a month," said Brenda as her husband gently waved a placard that said, "Proud of my soldier: Ashamed of this war."

Staff writers Karlyn Barker, Jo Becker, Susan Levine, David Nakamura, Robert E. Pierre, Amit R. Paley and Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this report.

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